By Frank Green
Most people interested in Poquoson history and genealogy are familiar with story of Mary Rooksland Shield. She was married many times and many hundred descendants in York County and Poquoson. She is a lineal descendant of Nicolas Maritiau and his son-in-law, George Reade. It is through her Reade ancestry that she probably had royal blood and though Martiau, she was related to such people as George Washington, Thomas Nelson and Meriweather Lewis.
Mary's story is told in the late Dolly Hughes Vick book" The Ancestry and Descendants of Mary Rooksland Shield" This books tells of Mary going to Baltimore as a young child and marrying Jesse Huffington. They came back to York County to recover some land.
Mary's story has been told, but here is the story of her first husband, Jesse Huffington.
It was through the miracle of the Internet that I was able come up with the information on Jesse Huffington. One day I was reading the posts on Lower Delmarva Roots message board. I noted that one was from a woman who listed her maiden name as Huffington. I took a chance and e-mailed her and asked if she was familiar with Jesse Huffington and Mary Rookland Shield. She replied that Jesse was a several times great uncle of hers and she knew about her marriage to Mary and their moving to Poquoson. She even had done some research on them. She sent me some well documented information on the life and times of Jesse Huffington.
Jesse Joseph Huffington was born in the Barren Springs area of Somerset County Maryland about 1792. He was the son of John Huffington and Sarah Weatherly. It should be noted that the Weatherly family ties into the Hopkins family before they moved to Poquoson in the early 1800s.
The Huffington family moved from England to Accomack County Virginia in the late 1600s. They then moved to Somerset County Maryland in the early 1700s.
Jesse first married Mary Guiteer. She probably died not after they married.
As Jesse got older, he began to answer the call of the sea. The Huffington family history states that "Jesse Huffington was a courageous seagoing man whose life story would have made a good novel." This also gives credence to Dolly Vick's description of him as being a seaman and often sailing overseas to Europe and England.
Jesse had many adventures in the War of 1812. He was a close confidant of Admiral Joshua Barney.
In 1814 the British marched on Washington D.C. Jesse stayed behind with Barney after the latter sent his men to retreat from the area. Both Jesse and Barney were captured.
The British showed every courtesy to Huffington and Barney.
The Federal Gazette of October 13, 1814 listed " Jesse Huffington, sailing master" as a prisoner of war. He was later exchanged. This was a common practice at the time.
He returned to the Naval Service as a privateer. In the 1820's He participated in the wars between Spain and it's rebellious
South American colonies.
It is thought that he married Mary Rooksland Shield sometime around 1815. She was around 15 years old around that time.
She probably married in order to save her family's property in York County. They moved to the what was then the Poquoson area of York County. Jesse and Mary had two daughters. One of these daughters, Amanda Huffington, is the great-great-great grandmother of the author of this article.
Jesse died November 5,1835 in York County. Mary married four more times. Her story is told in the Dolly Hughes Vick's book "Mary Rooksland Shield-A Virginia Genealogy"